Sunday, 6 January 2013

Top 100 disaster movies: Knowing


Imagine knowing stuff. It would be a complete disaster, let's face it. I know nothing and that's enough of a dilemma. However, some people do know things, terrible things. This is why Barack Obama has aged 20 years in the last 4, for starters. Knowing is a 2009 film about a man who comes to know things and demonstrates, once and for all, that complete and utter ignorance is the closest humanity can come to finding inner peace.

In 1959, a deeply disturbed little girl (who was probably being sexually abused by her parents, lets face it) wrote down the string of numbers that was continually coursing through her head and stuck them in her school's time capsule. By a freakish twist of fate, upon their re-emergence in 2009 they came into the sweaty hands of the only pupil at the school whose father is a professor of astrophysics. Luckier still, the dirty little tea leaf pockets it, meaning that the good prof gets a full evening studying it. His maths skills are obviously tight, as despite all that whisky he's drinking, he immediately spots a string of numbers predicting the September 11th terrorist attacks as well as the number of its victims. But wait! This girl who's had more cocks up her than a minibus filled with British princesses had actually predicted every major catastrophe to happen in the last 50 years! Oh, and some that were just about to happen, obviously.

It was a curious - and, from the point of view of narrative tension, serendipitous - turn of events. Most parents, presented with this situation, would have given their child a good beating for nicking things from school, send them to bed early and then, upon examination of the document, chucked the nonsensical barcode of woe in the bin. It would have been the right thing to do, too. It turns out that there's nothing that anybody can do to stop any of this from happening, so foreknowledge of it is always going to prove to be an intolerable burden. And so it proves, as the first event on the list - a plane crash - comes to pass.

Nicholas Cage in Knowing: he thinks he's got problems

By the time that it becomes apparent that the final event predicted by the document is a solar flare that will cause the extinction of all life on earth, our hero the prof is really starting to show signs of the strain. Or he would have been, if Nicholas Cage could act. Luckily for the human race, aliens have been lurking about the woods like paedophiles and they take the professor's son and the granddaughter of the deeply disturbed little girl (who, by some miracle, had successfully managed to breed a well-adjusted family before topping herself, memories of her rude uncle's glans still no doubt fresh in her mind (and her ear)) onto their spaceship and off into the space. This will invariably make any sequels to the Knowing franchise very different films. Or at the very least, films of a different genre. As the visitors also take two rabbits with them, my proposed title for this film is Knowing 2: Sexy Noah's Ark. I'm writing it now.

Knowing is a film that poses more questions than answers. Which is ironic, considering. The most significant line of questioning relates to numerology. Had that list fallen into the hands of a British-born professor of astrophysics, for example, there would have been no film at all as the date order wouldn't have rung true and the document would have been thrust into the shitter with flying colours. It reminds me, too, of the brief pre-millennial infatuation with The Bible Code, a book that successfully predicted little but demonstrated that anything could - if interpreted in the right way - be viewed as a portent of doom. Which means that, presumably, any committed numerologist reading this can probably extrapolate from it the date of my own death. Having now seen Knowing, in many ways I wish it had been yesterday. It is a piece of watchable and diverting hocum, but what I really want from a disaster movie is watchable and entertaining hocum. Or bees.

I give Knowing FIVE out of ten. For the numerologists amongst you, this is 5/10. Which, Nicholas Cage would tell you, is 10th May. Eep.

1 comment:

Hook, Line and Sink Her said...

This made my face laugh lots. Thank you.

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